Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
You can look at Morandi without believing in God, in an absolute, in man. But it seems to me that
afterwards, your scepticism will become less tenable. I was lucky enough to be initiated into the work of
this mystical painter, who was reintroducing a sense of peace and ancient happiness into the modern age, by my uncle: Vitale Bloch. Through him, I came to know Morandi the painter, and I came to know Morandi the man. For Vitale, who together with Max Friedländer had become a specialist of Flemish painting, and whom Roberto Longhi had introduced to the vast domain of Italian painting, considered Morandi's oeuvre as the 'Holy Grail' of his time. He loved Morandi, and would make delicate jokes about him, perfectly imitating Morandi's sighs: Dove andiamo a finire? ('Where are we going to end up?'), expressing Morandi's amazement at the times in which he was living and in which he felt so lost. He loved to tell the story of how Mussolini, while visiting an exhibition, had hurried towards him as he was standing in front of his pictures; Lei è Bolognese? ('You are from Bologna, aren't you?'). Petrified in front of this muscular, short man, the tall beanpole, all skin and bones, stepped back and murmured, Sì, trembling. Ah! Allora, Lei è Emiliano ('Ah, so you are from Emilia'). And Morandi again took a step backwards and repeated, as though to defend himself, Sì. Furious at getting nothing more out of him, Mussolini clicked his heels, turned around and shouted, Basta colle nature morte! ('That's enough of the still lives!'). Their relationship did not stop there: Vitale also loved to tell the story of a picture by Morandi which had been exported without a license, over which, in order the better to hide the fact, a portrait of Il Duce had been painted. When the painting arrived in New York, the happy owner entrusted it to his restorer and left on holiday. Asking for news of the work, he received the following telegram: 'Mussolini disappeared stop Garibaldi appeared stop what's next.'
My uncle was an art historian, a critic, and an occasional dealer. He was above all, as Francesco Arcangeli wrote in his homage to Vitale on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, a 'master of discernment'. He could sit for hours in front of a picture, the lapels of his jacket getting covered with the ash of the cigarettes which he used to smoke endlessly, and it would look as if he was in prayer. He wrote extensively: his bibliography, compiled by Liana Castelfranchi Vegas, is six pages long. Amongst his many writings, I always thought that it was in his book on Vermeer that he best expressed the love which led and guided his life. He was looking for this profound peace which, deep down, inhabits every man, which the great Flemish painters and Chardin managed to portray and which Morandi found again, listened to and expressed in the midst of the 'sound and fury' of his own century, without letting them distract him.
It seems to me that what belonged to art must return to it; it seems to me that the person who introduced this art into our lives must be celebrated. This is the reason why the monies we hope to raise through the sale of these Morandis will be used to create a foundation, which will annually award the author of a book dedicated to painting or sculpture, critical or erudite, in the name of Vitale, my uncle, and of Arnold, my father, to whom I owe my love for art and letters. The administration of the prize, as well as everything concerning the Foundation, will be entrusted to the Fondation de France, the official organization charged with the support and management of private foundations.
Paris, August 2011